The Reel Review


Cher, Olympia Dukakis and Nicholas Cage star in this Oscar-winning 1987 romantic comedy about a widowed Italian-American bookkeeper in Brooklyn who falls in love with the brother of a doltish fool  whom she only recently had agreed to marry.

Olympia Dukakis and Cher in 1987’s Moonstruck.

What makes director Norman Jewison’s endearing film work so well is its immensely relatable and charming ensemble cast. You can almost smell the marinara sauce and red wine. As the star, Cher, of course is a standout, but it is Olympia Dukakis, as her smart-mouthed mother obsessed with finding out why men stray in relationships, who provides the heart of this film. (Both actresses, along with screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, won Oscars for Moonstruck.)

Around the table, from left: Cher, Nicholas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Julie Bovasso, Louis Guss, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Danny Aiello and Vincent Gardenia in Moonstruck‘s big kitchen climax.

The mind-spinningly fast affair between Cher and Cage’s characters may strain the bounds of believability and Cage’s absurdly melodramatic performance is (unintentionally?) hysterical. But where Moonstruck is at its best is the subtle and often hilarious interactions among its ensemble cast – a sideways glance, a gentle touch, a smile – all of it really makes the film sparkle. Jewison and Shanley masterfully capture the intricate beauty of complex relationships growing old together. Moonstruck is a timeless classic.


• John Patrick Shanley says he had Sally Field in mind to play Loretta when he wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck. 

Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck.

• Casting director Howard Feuer said when Anne Bancroft and Maureen Stapleton were too expensive for the role of Cher’s mother, he called up character actress Olympia Dukakis, who read for director Norman Jewison and was hired on the spot.

• John Mahoney says attention from his performance in Moonstruck helped him land his role on the long running hit TV series Frasier.


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